North and South

Every region in the country has different perceptions and realities of institutions and organizations. There’s kind of an unspoken understanding and stigma about certain aspects of the society. I’ve come to realize this even more as I re-settle into the life and times of Tidewater Virginia.

While Virginia is considered the “South” as it relates to the Mason-Dixon Line and Civil War tradition, it’s fairly clear that life in Georgia, the deep south, is much different than life in Virginia, the northernmost southern state. That’s where I’m framing my reference; I can’t really speak from experience of any other part of America, simply because I haven’t lived anywhere else. In Georgia, especially Coweta County, the concept of a four-lane-highway hasn’t been embraced like Hampton has for Mercury Boulevard and Newport News for (parts of) Jefferson Avenue (Atlanta is a different story; urban development has implemented a need for larger roads, so I don’t consider the city a part of my claim).

But, to be fair, in Virginia, especially in Hampton Roads and other college towns close by, one thing I’ve noticed is that downtown is NOT somewhere you want to be after dark. The only reason you’re ever in downtown Norfolk or Newport News is because you have no choice but to pass through it or quickly do what you have to do there. Yes, downtown Virginia Beach is a safe and nice place after dark, but I’ll readily pass on being around the tourism district of the area. The downtown areas of places (mostly college towns) in Georgia like Atlanta and Athens; in North Carolina like Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill; and in South Carolina like Columbia and Clemson are pretty much thought of as the spots where the nightlife is. All the restaurants and bars, venues, and retail stores are there, and that’s essentially where all the “fun” happens. Also, the ideas and perceptions/realities of Greek life are completely different here in comparison to further down south (my experience is specifically with the Greek life at University of Georgia when I was dating a sorority member, and also as a spectator of Greek life at University of West Georgia, Auburn University, Old Dominion University, and Christopher Newport University). It seems to me like there is a difference in goals for the organizations. Before I continue, yes, I do realize and understand that the philanthropies exist and are prominent within each fraternity or sorority, so this is a complete outsider’s perspective. What I’ve noticed is that, as a whole, the southern Greek life has more emphasis on the camaraderie and social aspect, while the more northern Greek life has more emphasis on the mission and outreach associated with the philanthropy of the chapter.

I could point out the obvious that the further south you go, the accents are thicker, the driving gets slower, and temperature gets hotter, but I think that’s fairly obvious in comparison to the rest.

I admit there may be some skewed perceptions listed above. I’d love to know about why they’re skewed. I’d also love to know what some other region-specific differences are. Tell me!

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